The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Land Rover Freelander 2 offers all the ability of its bigger brothers in a more compact, efficient package.
Reasons to buy:
- Light, airy cabin
- Spacious boot
- Rewarding drive
How good does it look?
The Land Rover Freelander 2 is bigger than its predecessor, and it looks stockier as well. But it’s still small enough to feel at home on city streets and in car parks. Parking is surprisingly easy, thanks to good visibility out of the cabin and large side mirrors. We like the striking front grille, wheel arch air vents and spare-wheel-free tailgate.
What's the interior like?
It’s the baby in Land Rover’s range, but the Freelander 2’s cabin is light and airy and the driving position is elevated enough to see over most other traffic. There are lots of buttons on the dashboard, but they are logically laid out and easy to use – they’re so large, in fact, that you could use them easily, even wearing a pair of gloves. The plastics are of good quality and the build feels solid.
How practical is it?
Cabin space in the front is excellent, but rear passengers have only just enough legroom, although the three-seat rear bench is raised up to give passengers a better view – a neat touch. On the other hand, the boot is some way ahead of its rivals’, with 755 litres of space compared with just 540 for the Audi Q5 and 480 in the BMW X3. Well designed touches include tough rubber mats which should protect the carpet, and plenty of large cubby holes and drinks holders.
What's it like to drive?
Driving enjoyment isn’t something you would normally associate with 4×4s, but plenty of cars are less fun to drive than a Freelander 2. Its steering is pleasingly accurate and well-weighted and the suspension is taut, without being uncomfortable. There’s hardly any wallow in bends and, within its limits, the Land Rover is surprisingly rewarding to drive. Off-road, the Freelander 2 is good enough to get you anywhere you need to go, and all models above the basic S trim get a simple knob on the central console which controls the Terrain Response System. This optimises the vehicle’s settings for the various terrains you are most likely to encounter.
How powerful is it?
This is the cleanest Land Rover ever built, and it’s also far from being the slowest. Even the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine packs an impressive 310lb/ft, so it accelerates from 0-60mph in a brisk 10.9 seconds. It feels even quicker on the road, and you’ll rarely want for more performance, although there is a 187bhp version of the same engine if you do. The engine is particularly quiet, and it revs sweetly around the dial.
How much will it cost me?
The biggest hurdle to overcome when buying a Freelander 2 is its high initial price. The range-topping models cost well over £30k, although it’s possible to get a model with the same engine for much less, if you’re prepared to put up with two-wheel drive. This price range compares favourably with the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo X60, but makes it considerably more expensive than ’soft-roaders’ like the Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan. Fuel and emissions savings are good for the wallet, and the 4WD Freelander averages a respectable 45.6mpg while emitting 165g/km. Go for the 2WD model and you’ll get better economy, but not as much of an improvement as you might expect.
How reliable is it?
The first Freelander had plenty of reliability woes, but this one looks to be much better. After trawling owners’ forums, we found no stories of faults with the new model.
How safe is it?
The Freelander 2 received the full five-stars for occupant protection in Euro NCAP crash testing. The only blot is a one-star score for pedestrian safety – 4×4s are intrinsically more dangerous in collisions with humans.
How much equipment do I get?
The base-level S model has keyless ignition, eight-speaker stereo with MP3 connectivity, alloy wheels and air-con. Top-of-the-range HSE models are pricey but luxurious with leather seats, touch screen satellite-nav, Bluetooth connection and 18-inch alloy wheels.
You might be concerned the least-polluting Land Rover ever would be having something of an identity crisis, but fear not; the Freelander 2 is everything a 4×4 with the green and gold badge should be. It’s great off-road, satisfying to drive and rewarding to own – with less of the guilt. Visit the Land Rover website now for more information on the Land Rover Freelander 2.